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Chapter 26

“Glad you understand,” Devin said before hesitating. “So, what were you and Marlee going to...” He stopped, his face flushing.

I groaned, “Will you stop being such an idiot and trust me when I saw we are talking?”

Not that eating counts as talking, because what we’re doing can be summarized in the word: carrots.

“Right, sorry,” Devin hurried, still standing there despite looking like he shouldn’t. “Still, would you mind if I stood there as a chaperone or something?”

I felt distinctly like hitting him over the head with a bag or something.

Preferably full of bricks.

“Have I ever said how much I hate you?” I asked him, glowering.

“Why no, you haven’t,” Devin replied, unaffected. “However, judging by how much I can make you laugh, you think I’m incredibly charming and are more attracted to me than Marlee.”

I still wasn’t amused. “You realize you’re digging your pit deeper, right?”

Devin stopped, “I am, aren’t I?” He sighed, “It’s not like you had a choice anyway.”

I blinked, my jaw dropping. ”Excuse you? What do you mean ‘I don’t have a choice’? I’m the one who’s in charge of this tete a tete, you moron.”

“No, you’re not,” Devin said, walking towards the back door.

“Devin!” I shrilled, not even caring that almost half the people in the warehouse looked at me, their expressions ranging from annoyed to intrigued.

He ignored me as he kept moving.

I growled, “Devin!” I hissed. Never had I so wished I knew someone’s full name.

His head tilted slightly, so I knew he heard me. He was just being the jerk he was and ignoring me.


Devin reached his hand out for the doorknob and I slipped in front of him, swatting his hand away with a loud smack before his hand landed on my shoulder.

“Would you mind?” I hissed, shaking in rage.

Devin raised an eyebrow, “Would I mind, what? Your standing in front of me in a horrible attempt at blocking the door? I wouldn’t mind so much as be slightly annoyed that I had to pick you up so I could go through.”

I gritted my teeth and balled my fists to keep myself from exploding towards him. “You are not allowed to touch me,” I growled, my feral side coming back.

The softness that had turned my heart to mush earlier was gone, much to my relief.

My lip curled up, “Who do you think you are, inserting yourself where I’ve made it perfectly clear you aren’t wanted?”

His stance reminded me of my brothers as he tensed slowly to resist whatever I threw at him. His hands encircled my forearms and held firm and even though I pulled and pushed with all my might, he didn’t budge.

“I think I’m the only one who cares for your safety,” Devin said slowly, scanning my face, “Including yourself.”

If it was even possible, my lip pulled back more. “Get your hands off of me,” I growled, my voice lowering dangerously, “Or so help me, I will scream to draw everyone’s attention, leave, and never come back. You think I need you, but I don’t.”

Devin seemed shocked and he looked right into my eyes. “You’re serious.” It wasn’t a question, and yet he seemed absolutely flabbergasted that I didn’t need them; need him.

Slowly, he let go. “You’re feisty,” He said, somewhat admirably.

I didn’t acknowledge the compliment, “I’m mad, so you’d better get away from me before you receive something that you didn’t want.”

I reached behind me for the doorknob and turned it, leaving the building. I shut it hard behind me, hoping that Devin was still close enough for it to feel like he’d had the door shut in his face.

“You look frightening,” Marlee commented, taking a small step back as she let her eyes skim over me.

“I’m not surprised,” I replied as I tried to calm myself. “If Devin is still alive later, tell him he’d better sleep with one eye open.”

Marlee laughed, “Girl, there’s no way I’m getting close enough to him to tell him to watch himself. If I get that close, it’ll be to kill him myself.”

I grunted, “He’s insufferable.”

Marlee shrugged, “He may be, but I can tell you that Zoe has a crush on him that borders on obsessive and he manages to make every little kid beam when he wanders into their general vicinity. Some would argue that his blessings outweigh his curses.”

I shot a look at Marlee, “Would you help me tie him to the roof if I told you that he enlightened me on your preferences?” I asked her hopefully.

Marlee’s eyes darkened, “No, I’d put him on a ship full of explosives and send it into the middle of the ocean before remotely blowing it up, so you might not want to tell me stuff like that.”

I shrugged, not particularly concerned. “He even threatened to pick me up to move me when I blocked him from coming out here. He said something about being the ‘chaperone.’”

Marlee growled, “That absolute idiot. He’s got it in his head that because I like girls, I’m going to act like a guy and plant one on them as soon as I can.”

I snorted, “Maybe you should plant one on him. It’d knock some sense into him, I’m sure.”

Marlee cast me a lazy glance, “You’re forgetting that your plan requires my getting close enough to him to do that. He’d be dead by intense glaring long before I got close enough.”

“Too bad,” I muttered darkly.

Marlee laughed, her entire face lighting up. “Well, this definitely wasn’t what I expected to talk about, but by all means, let’s complain about Devin.”

I cast her a rueful smile, “Sorry.” I reached to my knife belt and pulled out a few carrots. I handed her two and kept one for myself, biting off the end. As I chewed, I watched her.

Marlee took the carrots with a hungry glint in her eyes. As she bit into the first one, her eyes nearly rolled back into her head. “Ummmm,” She groaned, looking nearly blissful.

I almost choked on my carrot, “Are you okay?”

Marlee opened her eyes and looked back at me, her eyes sparkling as she chewed. “Too much?” She asked after she swallowed.

I shook my head, smirking at her. “Carrots do not deserve a blissful look, despite them being a healthy food,” I told her seriously.

Marlee shrugged, taking another bite of carrot. “Well, it’s the best food I’ve had in a while.”

My stomach rumbled in agreement, reminding me how little I’d eaten in the past few days. I had joined the group for dinner and I’d snuck a carrot yesterday, but that was far from enough food. to be entirely honest, I was surprised I’d been able to forget about it for so long.

I took a bite of my carrot, the almost metallic taste sliding over my tongue as I chewed. “Me too,” I told Marlee, smiling slightly. “Lucky thing is, we can fill up on carrots without anyone knowing.”

Marlee grinned appreciatively, “Nice job, Callie.”

I shrugged, a slow grin spreading over my face. “It wasn’t too bad. They fit in my knife belt, so no one saw when I took them.”

Marlee was still grinning when she took another bite of the carrot. It snapped between her teeth almost without any effort at all. “That’s a good thing,” She said carelessly, then she looked back at me, the hungry look in her eyes dimming. “I knew I liked you,” She chuckled.

I grinned, “Can’t say the same, but good for you.”

Marlee shrugged, lifting her carrot in a mock toast. “To both of us and our amazing skills. May no one ever stand in our way.”

“Cheers,” I said, lifting my own carrot.

We bit our carrots in unison, grinning to ourselves as the sun rose above us, marking the start of a new, daring day.

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